After denting the nylon for 10 first-half goals and going right back to where they started from with a tie, the only two scores in the final 40 minutes belonged to visiting Ooltewah as the Owls claimed a 7-5 victory and the higher seed for the postseason tournament.
As the No. 4 seed, Bradley (7-3-2, 3-3) will still host an opening round match Saturday but the Bears will have to face archrival Cleveland (4-6-4, 2-2-2) for the second time in six days. Bradley defeated the fifth-seeded Raiders for the first time in a dozen years Monday night in an exciting 1-0 battle.
The first-half scoring barrage started early Wednesday as Ooltewah (6-5-1, 4-2) scored with just 2:45 gone off the clock.
Not the be outdone, the Bears answered 75 seconds later when junior Martin Zaragoza put in the first of his three goals of the half.
The two teams then battled for more than 15 minutes without either finding the net, although plenty of shots were taken.
Zaragoza broke the drought at the 19:50 mark with his second goal and then junior Miles Christian put Bradley up 3-1 less than four minutes later.
Ooltewah cut the deficit in half with another goal at the 29:15 mark, but less than five minutes later senior Jordan Steels picked up an assist with a side throw-in to in front of the net, where Zaragoza headed it in for his “hat trick.”
The Bears extended their advantage to 5-2 a minute and a half later when Christian put in his 25th goal of the season.
An extremely physical game started getting even rougher and a “three-time reversal of his call” by the official right in front of the Bear bench got Bradley coach Tucker Blackmon overheated.
A moment later, when one of his players was whistled for a takedown in the box and an Ooltewah player was awarded a penalty kick, the first-year Bear coach boiled over and got the red card, forcing him to leave the facility at the 38-minute mark of the match.
The Owls nailed not only the ensuing PK but another goal just 30 seconds later and a third during “stoppage time,” to even the score at 5-5 at the half.
After the “Senior Night” ceremonies honoring Steels, Brad Goodwin, Jonathan Poteet, Tyler Lewis and captains Ramon Gomez and Cody Arrowood, play resumed, but the defenses tightened.
Although plenty of shots were sent toward the goals, just two found their way in as Ooltewah scored at the 59- and 68-minute marks, the latter coming off a corner kick.
The Owls outshot the hosts 29-11 during the 80-minute span with Bear goalkeepers Ramon Gomez making eight saves and Caleb Arrowood three. Hunter Rozzell made five saves in goal for Ooltewah.
Steels, who twice this week has earned assists on throw-ins (the first was for the lone goal in the Cleveland match), had a pair of assists Wednesday, while Zaragoza helped out on one of Christian’s goals and Christian returned the favor.
Callum Wisehart and Phillipe Munoz had two goals apiece for Ooltewah, while Warren Moody, Phillip Varchmin and Trey Tucker dented the nylon for the other three scores.
Wisehart handed out three assists in the victory, while Munoz had two and Arnold Monterrsos had one help.
OWLS 7, BEARS 5
Halftime score: 5-5. Goals: Callum Wisehart 2, Phillipe Munoz 2, Warren Moody, Phillip Varchmin, Trey Tucker (O); Martin Zaragoza 3, Miles Christian 2 (BC). Assists: Wisehart 3, Munoz 2, Arnold Monterrsos (O); Jordan Steels 2, Zaragoza, Christian (BC). Shots on goal: Ooltewah 29-11. Saves: Hunter Rozzell 5 (O); Ramon Gomez 8, Caleb Arrowood 3 (BC). Records: Ooltewah 6-5-1, 4-2 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 7-3-2, 3-3 District 5-AAA.